Viking has scooped a "dramatic and colourful" new history of Operation Chariot, a daring British commando raid in the Second World War, by Giles Whittell.
Publishing director Daniel Crewe bought world rights for The Greatest Raid: St Nazaire, 1942: The Heroic Story of Operation Chariot from Bill Hamilton at A M Heath. It will be published on 17th March 2022, ahead of the 80th anniversary of the raid on 28th March.
The book tells the story of the British attack of the St Nazaire U-boat base on the Atlantic seaboard, turning an old destroyer into a live bomb and using it to ram the gates of a Nazi stronghold. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded, more than in any similar operation. Whittell's new book draws official documents, interviews, unknown accounts and the reactions of French civilians and German forces.
Crewe said: “We are thrilled to welcome Giles to Viking, and very proud to be publishing The Greatest Raid. Giles expertly weaves together a gripping narrative that is full of astonishing bravery, failures of leadership and the absurdities of war—and from start to finish it comprises incredible human stories.”
Whittell said: “The attack on St Nazaire was an act of suicidal bravery. Everyone involved knew it but queued up to be part of it anyway. Writing about them 80 years on has been humbling, exhilarating and illuminating: when the raid was conceived, Britain was losing the war. Afterwards, that was a much harder argument to sustain. Huge thanks to Viking for letting me shine a new searchlight on this extraordinary hinge of history.”